• Offered by Centre for Arab and Islamic Studies
  • ANU College ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences
  • Course subject Middle Eastern & Central Asian Studies
  • Areas of interest Arab and Islamic Studies, Social Research, Middle East Studies
  • Academic career PGRD
  • Course convener
    • Dr Karima Laachir
  • Mode of delivery In Person
  • Co-taught Course
  • Offered in First Semester 2024
    See Future Offerings

This course provides a critical evaluation of the main paradigms and methods used to study the Middle East and Central Asia. From Oriental Studies, Area Studies to the disciplinary social sciences and humanities, the course explores how specific social, historical, cultural and political contexts affect knowledge production in and on the Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia. The course examines key methods used by academics in humanities and social sciences (including political scientists, historians, anthropologists and cultural studies scholars among others) to critically structure their research on the Middle East and Central Asia. 

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

  1. analyse how power and politics affect the production of knowledge about Middle East and Central Asia;
  2. critically employ key concepts and theories used in studying the Middle East and Central Asia;
  3. understand the utility of different academic disciplines for the study of the Middle East and Central Asia;
  4. comprehend and evaluate the various qualitative techniques that are used by researchers in the pursuit of their studies; and
  5. communicate cogent arguments and research questions with reference to broader methodological and conceptual debates within Area Studies on Middle East and Central Asia.

Other Information

Critical Approached and Methods in the Study of Middle East and Central Asia

Indicative Assessment

  1. 2000 word essay (Research project)  (20) [LO 1,2,3]
  2. Oral presentation of the Research project (10) [LO 1,2]
  3. 2000 word essay (Students will probe the use of different methods of research and reflect on the strengths and weaknesses of each method /approach)  (20) [LO 2,4,5]
  4. 4000 word essay (Sub-thesis /essay)  (50) [LO 1,2,3,4,5]

The ANU uses Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. While the use of Turnitin is not mandatory, the ANU highly recommends Turnitin is used by both teaching staff and students. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website.


260 hours of total student learning time made up from:

a) 24 hours of contact over 12 weeks: 24 hours of seminars; and

b) 236 hours of independent student research, reading and writing.

Inherent Requirements

Not applicable

Requisite and Incompatibility

To enrol in this course you must be enrolled in Master of Middle Eastern and Central Asian Studies (MMECA) or Master of Middle Eastern and Central Asian Studies (Advanced) (VMECA).

Prescribed Texts

No texts required.

Preliminary Reading

Said, E. Orientalism (Pantheon books 1978)

Sharabi, H. (ed.) Theory, politics, and the Arab world: critical responses (New York: Routledge, 1990).

Hodgson, M. Rethinking World History: Essays on Europe, Islam and World History. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 1993).

Tessler, M. A. et al Area Studies and Social Science: Strategies for Understanding the Middle East. (IUP 1999).

Eickelman, D. The Middle East and Central Asia: An Anthropological Approach. (Prentice Hall 2001).

Lockman, Z. Contending Visions of the Middle East: The History and Politics of Orientalism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004).

Lockman, Z. Field Notes: The Making of Middle East Studies in the United States (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2016)

Mitchell, T. Rule of Experts: Egypt, Techno-Politics, Modernity (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002), pp.273-303.

Gause, G.‘Why Middle East Studies Missed the Arab Spring,’ in Foreign Affairs (July/August 2011).

McFate, M. ‘Mind the Gap: Bridging the Military/Academic Divide’ in Montgomery McFate and Janice Lawrence, eds. Social Science Goes to War: The Human Terrain System in Iraq and Afghanistan (London: Hurst, 2015)

Achcar, G. The People Want: A Radical Exploration of the Arab Spring. (California: UCP 2013).

Deeb L. and Winegar, J. Anthropology’s Politics: Disciplining the Middle East (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2016), pp.143-174 (Ch5. ‘Dis/Engaging the War on Terror’)

Lynch, M. ‘Political Science in Real Time: Engaging the Middle East Policy Public’ in Perspectives in Politics 14,1 (2016), pp.121-131.

Wedeen, L. Ambiguities of Domination: Politics, Rhetoric, and Symbols in Contemporary Syria (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999), pp.87-132.

Lemon, E. ed. Critical approaches to security in Central Asia. (New York: Routledge 2018).

Beyer, J., Rasanayagam, J., & Reeves, M. (2013). Ethnographies of the State in Central Asia?: Performing Politics. Bloomington: Indiana Universi


Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.  

Commonwealth Support (CSP) Students
If you have been offered a Commonwealth supported place, your fees are set by the Australian Government for each course. At ANU 1 EFTSL is 48 units (normally 8 x 6-unit courses). More information about your student contribution amount for each course at Fees

Student Contribution Band:
Unit value:
12 units

If you are a domestic graduate coursework student with a Domestic Tuition Fee (DTF) place or international student you will be required to pay course tuition fees (see below). Course tuition fees are indexed annually. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found at Fees.

Where there is a unit range displayed for this course, not all unit options below may be available.

12.00 0.25000
Domestic fee paying students
Year Fee
2024 $8880
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2024 $12720
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

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The list of offerings for future years is indicative only.
Class summaries, if available, can be accessed by clicking on the View link for the relevant class number.

First Semester

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
3396 19 Feb 2024 26 Feb 2024 05 Apr 2024 24 May 2024 In Person N/A
4295 19 Feb 2024 26 Feb 2024 05 Apr 2024 24 May 2024 Online View

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